Project description 

Impact from changes in the global climate is increasingly manifesting themselves in terms of the regional sphere. Ecological impact in all there dimensions is still not completely visible to date, hence there exists such a sense of urgency regarding solutions for the challenges we are facing in climate and ecosystems research. Forests, grasslands and lakes are ecological systems with longevity, thus causing to be considerably impacted by future climate changes. These ecological systems cover a large proportion of Bavaria and carry considerable economic significance. In light of current climate changes, the probability is increasing that seldom-seen and extreme climatic events will occur more often and with rising intensity. Moreover, novel forms of extreme conditions can be expected. Economic damages can be presumed. Possibly negative developments must therefore be immediately addressed with sufficient adaptive measures.

With the “Bavarian Climate Programme 2020” the Bavarian Ministry of Science, Research and Art (StMWFK) in cooperation with Bavarian universities and technical authorities elaborated a package of measures specifically aligned for Bavarian conditions. One of these measures is FORKAST, the Research Cooperation on „Impact of climate change on ecosystems and climatic adaptation strategies”, incorporating 16 projects and one coordination module. Scientists from different universities and research institutes investigate on impact of climate on ecosystems participating on this research cooperation. The connecting theory of most of the projects is that extreme climatic events cause profoundly incisive consequences for ecological processes. Current meteorological forecasts predict extreme climatic events as well as rising variability in the weather patterns.

The research cooperation makes thorough investigations in following central issues: How do extreme climatic conditions, e.g. drought and torrential rains, affect the characteristics of ecosystems and functions? How are ecological processes, such as production of biomass or the interaction between animals and plants, affected? How resilient are our ecosystems? How developed are capacities of ecosystems to compensate ecological consequences of climate?

Research results in this matter are essential prerequisites in order to evaluate how ecological services, e.g. stability of mountain slopes, soil quality, agricultural and silvicultural production, will be affected and which adaptation strategies should be chosen/ realised. At the same time they built the basis for efficient estimate and minimization of damages. Moreover, eventual positive developments should be recognised and developmental opportunities in the offing should be utilised early on. The main land use forms of Bavaria are covered by the research areas which contain forest of low mountain rages (Fichtelgebirge, Bavarian Forest), forest and grassland of the Alps and respectively of the alpine foothills, bogs/peatlands as well as grassland in lowlands and in floodplains.


To realise this target linkage between innovative methods is required: monitoring of ecosystem conditions (remote sensing, indicator systems), experimental simulation of extreme climatic events (precipitation, temperature) and modelling of development of biotic communities (expansion of new species, biodiversity). The network of project partners encourages combination and implementation of developed methodology within the research cooperation whereof optimal benefit and synergistic effects result.



One key target is the improvement of understanding regarding resilience and capacity of ecosystems under changing environmental conditions. Moreover, reaction of biotic communities and their functionality concerning ecological services and functional reactions, e.g. productivity, phenology and soil fertility, are examined. To facilitate the realisation of these subject-overlapping and inter-structural demands, FORKAST has inter-linked research competencies of Bavarian universities with technical authorities. The scientists of FORKAST originate from different climate and ecosystem research fields and, furthermore, are included in the network of international research consortiums. The integration of interdisciplinary competencies within the cooperation of FORKAST leads to ecosystem research on climatic adaptations in Bavaria. The fundamental research results sought after within the cooperation offer opportunities for implementation in commerce and society in, for example, agriculture and silviculture, prognosis of natural hazards, nature conservation, tourism, planning of spaces and water management. There are efforts to encourage research competencies with long duration in the fields of ecology, meteorology and modelling. In these areas of research rise new questions which are to be applied in further research activities.






last modified 2011-05-02